Canning Jars with Reusable Lids? About Time. A Look at Pearl’s New Range of Preserve Jars.

Pearls full range of preserve and canning jars with reusable lids

I have always hat­ed throw­ing away sin­gle-use jar lids and rusty screw bands. Replace­ments are cost­ly, and as pub­lic aware­ness of the need to live more sus­tain­ably grows, the idea of dis­pos­able jar com­po­nents becomes increas­ing­ly absurd. So I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to receive an email from Lukas Boettger. Lukas explained that he worked for a com­pa­ny called Pearl. They were going to rev­o­lu­tionise the world of pre­serv­ing with their new range of Jars. Pearl Jars fea­ture reusable clo­sure sys­tems. Would I like to stock them? It did­n’t take much of an argu­ment to per­suade me.

Introducing Pearl Jars

Pearl’s jars are sim­i­lar in size and shape to reg­u­lar Mason jars, such as those made by Ball and Kil­ner. The prin­ci­pal dif­fer­ences are the lid com­po­nents, which are meant to last the entire life of the jar, and the rub­ber seals, which can be reused numer­ous times. There are four types of jar in the range, each with a dif­fer­ent clo­sure system:

Pearl Luna Cap Preserve Jars

The Luna Cap is the flag­ship of Pearl’s range of jars. Like oth­er mod­ern Mason jars the clo­sure con­sists of a screw band and lid disc. How­ev­er, unlike oth­er can­ning jars, the band and lid are con­struct­ed of rust-free and ful­ly reusable stain­less steel. 

Luna Cap jars are avail­able in 0.25 litre, 0.5 litre and 1 litre sizes.

Pearl Sunny Cap Preserve Jars

The Sun­ny Cap Jar design takes its inspi­ra­tion from old­er Mason jars designed pri­or to the adop­tion of met­al lids. The jars them­selves are iden­ti­cal to the Luna Cap but fea­ture a clo­sure con­sist­ing of a stain­less steel screw band and thick glass lid. The lid is inter­change­able with that of the Mari­posa jar.

Sun­ny Cap jars are avail­able in 0.25 litre, 0.5 litre and 1 litre sizes.

Pearl Classic Swing Preserve Jars

The Clas­sic Swing Jar has a hinged glass lid and a tra­di­tion­al stain­less steel clip-top wire clo­sure mech­a­nism. These attrac­tive jars are designed for can­ning but are also ide­al for dry stor­age of spices, puls­es, and the like.

Clas­sic Swing jars are avail­able in 0.5 litre and 1 litre sizes.

Pearl Mariposa Preserve Jars

The Mari­posa is the most unusu­al jar in the range, with a stain­less steel wire mech­a­nism clamp­ing down on a remov­able glass cov­er. This sim­ple and ele­gant clo­sure is inspired by the Light­ning Pre­serve Jars of the late 19th cen­tu­ry. The lid is inter­change­able with that of the Sun­ny Cap jar. In addi­tion to can­ning, these jars are ide­al for fer­ment­ing. As car­bon diox­ide builds up from the fer­ment they will open peri­od­i­cal­ly in response to the pres­sure. No ‘burp­ing’ is required. 

Mari­posa jars are avail­able in 0.5 litre and 1 litre sizes.

Testing the Jars

Hav­ing received our first batch of jars from Pearl I got down to test­ing them. I fol­lowed our spiced red cab­bage can­ning recipe and made a num­ber of batch­es using the full selec­tion of 0.5 litre jars in the Pearl range. 

The Mari­posa and Clas­sic Swing jars per­formed excel­lent­ly through­out the tests with every sin­gle jar seal­ing well after removal from the water bath canner.

Ini­tial­ly I used the tra­di­tion­al “fin­ger tight” method for clos­ing the Luna Cap jars pri­or to can­ning. From this first batch a num­ber of jars failed to form a prop­er vac­u­um seal fol­low­ing the can­ning process. Hav­ing dis­cussed the mat­ter with Pearl it tran­spired that the jars need to be screwed closed prop­er­ly pri­or to can­ning. Hav­ing tak­en that advise the sec­ond batch of Luna and Sun­ny Cap jars sealed with a 100% suc­cess rate. 

In our tests The Sun­ny Cap jars per­formed well when used for can­ning how­ev­er as there is no tab on the rub­ber seal they require lev­er­ing open with a blunt knife or sim­i­lar tool. For this rea­son Pearl rec­om­mends all the jars apart from the Sun­ny Cap for use in both water bath and pres­sure canners.

To help tran­si­tion­ing to this excel­lent new range of jars I have cre­at­ed a post which con­tains instruc­tions on how to use Pearls range of jars for can­ning.

Hav­ing exper­i­ment­ed with all four of the jar clo­sures myself I then dis­trib­uted more jars amongst our local pre­serv­ing com­mu­ni­ty for fur­ther test­ing. In addi­tion to water bath can­ning we have put the jars to oth­er uses such as fer­ment­ing sauer­kraut, mak­ing straw­ber­ry jam, pick­ling shal­lots, stor­ing wild gar­lic pesto in the freez­er an as air­tight con­tain­ers whole spices and pulses.

The response from our test group was over­whelm­ing­ly favourable. I posed a few ques­tions to Lukas at Pearl based on the feed­back received.

Lukas, what inspired Pearl to devel­op the range of pre­serve jars and what drove your choice of mate­ri­als to use?

We want­ed to pro­duce a range of can­ning jars with reusable lids. Throw­ing lid com­po­nents away is expen­sive and unsus­tain­able. Stain­less steel parts with sep­a­rate seals was the best option. Stain­less steel is food safe and cor­ro­sion free with­out hav­ing to coat it or pro­duce a lam­i­nate mate­r­i­al that would be hard to recy­cle. By hav­ing sep­a­rate and replace­able seals we can also avoid hav­ing to use an adhe­sive on the lids.

Are you a keen pre­serv­er yourself?

Yes, I’m fas­ci­nat­ed by pre­serv­ing and do a lot at home. More fer­men­ta­tion than can­ning though.

Where are Pearl jars manufactured?

Pearl is based in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal but the jars are made in Spain by our part­ners at Estal. The rub­ber seals are also made in Europe while the stain­less steel com­po­nents are import­ed from Asia.

From con­ver­sa­tions I have had with you late last year I remem­ber that ini­tial­ly the plan was to use TPE seals that would last the life­time of the jars. What hap­pened to that goal?

TPE is a great food-safe mate­r­i­al. It is one of the few plas­tics that can be reformed into some­thing new with no mate­r­i­al degra­da­tion sim­ply by heat­ing, essen­tial for closed loop recy­cling. It is also extreme­ly hard wear­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly at the tem­per­a­tures obtained in can­ners we found that the TPE seals can become soft and deform. They are still avail­able for stor­age or fer­men­ta­tion use but we now rec­om­mend that only the nat­ur­al rub­ber seals are used for canning.

How often will the nat­ur­al rub­ber seals need replacing?

They are designed for mul­ti­ple uses but it depends on a num­ber of fac­tors. High fat foods, for exam­ple, tend to degrade the rub­ber a lot faster.

Are replace­ment seals available?

Yes, they will be.

Are the nat­ur­al rub­ber seals biodegrad­able or recyclable?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly not due to the pro­cess­ing need­ed to make rub­ber prod­ucts. They are how­ev­er sus­tain­able in terms of the nat­ur­al latex rub­ber used in their manufacture.

I passed a selec­tion of Pearl jars out to mem­bers of our local com­mu­ni­ty for test­ing. The feed­back has been amaz­ing­ly pos­i­tive. The diver­si­ty of the range though did cause some con­fu­sion at first. Why have Pearl devel­oped four types of clo­sure system?

Each jar type is unique and has it’s own advan­tages for a par­tic­u­lar use whether that is dry stor­age, can­ning or fermenting.

Can all the dif­fer­ent types of Pearl jar be used for water bath and pres­sure canning?

Yes, apart from the Sun­ny Cap jars. The Sun­ny Cap jars require some exter­nal lever­age to open the lids when vac­u­um sealed, and we can­not rec­om­mend any­one does that in case they break the jar or hurt them­selves. They are great for stor­age and fer­men­ta­tion though.

The Luna Cap range of jars in par­tic­u­lar seem aimed as a direct replace­ment for Kil­ner and Mason can­ning jars. They have been designed with a sim­i­lar sys­tem of lid and screw-band. With the old tra­di­tion­al jars the advice is always to ‘fin­ger tight­en’ the bands pri­or to can­ning. We found that the Luna jars failed to seal prop­er­ly if this approach is tak­en, instead the bands need­ed to be screwed down ful­ly. Is this the cor­rect way to use the jars?

Yes, that is cor­rect. Tight­en ful­ly but no need to over-tight­en. You get a great seal with the Luna Cap jars after can­ning. There is cut-out on the lid disc to allow you to eas­i­ly break the vac­u­um seal and lever open the jars with your fingers.

Peo­ple from our test group were extreme­ly impressed with the Luna Cap but it is the Mari­posa jars that has gar­nered the most affec­tion. Do you have a per­son­al favourite from the range?

Yes, the Mari­posa as well. It looks great and because the wire is remov­able and the lid is sep­a­rate it is very easy to clean. When fer­ment­ing, the wire bail mech­a­nism lets out the gas­es when the pres­sure inside the jar builds up so there is no need to man­u­al­ly release them.

So what is next for Pearl?

The jars are still very new and we are work­ing real­ly hard to raise brand aware­ness right now. We have lots of plans for more sus­tain­able prod­ucts in the future and have just launched our new Phi­los glass water bot­tle. It’s the first indus­tri­al­ly pro­duced prod­uct of its kind made from 100% post-con­sumer recy­cled glass.

A Brief History of the Canning Jar

In 1858, John Mason patent­ed the first screw-top jar clo­sure. The sin­gle piece lids were con­struct­ed of reusable, cor­ro­sion resis­tant, zinc alloy with a replace­able rub­ber seal. Pre­vi­ous­ly, jars had been sealed chiefly with wax.

Huge­ly pop­u­lar, Mason’s epony­mous jar inspired a boom in home can­ning. The suc­cess of his jars led to the pro­duc­tion of many imi­ta­tions, and the intro­duc­tion of fur­ther inno­va­tions. Zinc alloy lids would often lend a metal­lic taste to a jar’s con­tents. This result­ed in the wide­spread adop­tion of jars with glass lids and either a sep­a­rate met­al screw-band or a spring-clip sys­tem to hold it in place.

Today, most can­ning jars still fea­ture a screw-band but use a dis­pos­able met­al lid with a food-safe coat­ing and affixed rub­ber gas­ket. Jars of this type are avail­able from well known brands such as Ball, Kil­ner, Kerr and Leifheit. First intro­duced by Kerr in 1915, jars with this reli­able clo­sure sys­tem have dom­i­nat­ed the world of home can­ning for over a century.

But things are mov­ing on. Strong­ly influ­enced by the evo­lu­tion of the Mason Jar, Pearl has res­ur­rect­ed and improved upon his­tor­i­cal designs using con­tem­po­rary mate­ri­als and man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es. By chal­leng­ing the par­a­digm of dis­pos­abil­i­ty, Pearl is build­ing on the great tra­di­tion of inno­va­tion first insti­tut­ed by John Mason.

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